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Festus
03-05-2014, 12:06 PM
Yeah . . . how do you decide if you need to tint (add colorless white), Tone (add colorless gray, shade (add colorless black) a color OR Gray it down by adding either its direct or close complement or a color infused gray or black?

Just this morning I looked at my latest landscape after my first cup of tea and nearly spat a mouthful on the canvass . . . the GLOWING GREENS and YELLOWS! Arrrrrrgh!

Sigh . . . well obviously they needed changing. So make them a bit darker (tone or shade) or gray them down (complement or otherwise)? Well I duplicated the bilious and radioactive colors of green and yellow I had on the canvas against my palette and then divided that in half and tried both techniques. The graying changed the color just enough that it would have looked odd added to the canvas whereas a bit of judicious toning and shading of the yellow and green . . . worked quite nicely.

I applied those to the too glaring and glowing yellows and greens and everything sat down on the canvas, so to speak, and played nicely with one another. On the other hand some of the grayed colors actually worked out for a more distant section of the field, adding a workable bit of color variation just where I needed it.

The problem was, however, not only my relative inexperience with color work (I only returned to painting after a layoff of fifteen years this past summer) but the fact that I still have a somewhat shaky grasp of the meanings of the various terminology. I had to sit down with a couple of reference books to first discover what was meant by tinting, toning, shading, and graying as opposed to what I had thought they meant. Then once I grasped the terminology I was able to devise a plan aimed at dealing with the problem before me.

This makes me wonder if that is sometimes a problem for other relatively inexperienced artists or if it's unique to me . . . having to nail down various definitions of terminology to my satisfaction before the various possible solutions to a color problem snaps into focus?

That aside I rediscovered the delightful optical illusion when you take a bit of moderately toned yellow and dab the same value against areas of green that are themselves varying in value. The same color against a light green just modifies the color a little bit, whereas placing that same tone of yellow against a very dark green creates a brilliant spotlight effect. Wild!

Anyway, just thought I'd share these observations. :angel:

Patrick1
03-05-2014, 04:38 PM
In the end, it doesn't matter how you mix the color you want - as long as you get the right color. Being able to see & choose the right color is the hard part, not mixing it.

Another option for times when you need to darken a color but keep up its saturation as much as possible (as you often see in form shadow colors) - is to add a darker but somewhat saturated version of the same color. For example, you could darken yellow by adding Raw Sienna or Nickel Azo Yellow. Or darken red by adding a deep crimson, or blue by adding Athraquinone Blue. Years back I was wondering why my form shadow colors on solid objects often looked wrong, and I found I they were too grey. Keeping up the saturation while darkening was often the solution.

Forgive me if I didn't answer your question...just adding my thoughts.

Patrick1
03-05-2014, 05:20 PM
...how do you decide if you need to tint (add colorless white), Tone (add colorless gray, shade (add colorless black) a color OR Gray it down by adding either its direct or close complement or a color infused gray or black?
To address your question more directly. First you must decide how you want to modify the color. Learning to see the attributes of color (hue, value, saturation) in the reference and on the palette & canvas is the hard part. Then you will know what modifications to make.

-to lighten:, adding white will lighten but also lose saturation (some will call this a chalky look). To lighten but keep up saturation as much as possible, apply thinly over white or use a clear medium.

-to grey: adding a premixed neutral grey, or a complement then white. Both can grey a color down, and retain the same value if need be.

-to darken: add black, a darker grey, a mixing complement, apply more thickly (for transparent colors) or use a darker version of the color

If you add a complement that is not an exact complement, this can introduce a slight (or not-so-slight) change in hue - which is sometimes what you want. For example if you want to darken a red but also make it a bit more purplish, instead of adding the direct complement (which might be a blueish-green color like PG7), you could instead add a cyan or blue color...which could give a very dark, purplish red. So you've killed two birds with one stone - darkened, and at the same time shifted the hue to where you want it.

Festus
03-05-2014, 07:34 PM
To address your question more directly. First you must decide how you want to modify the color. Learning to see the attributes of color (hue, value, saturation) in the reference and on the palette & canvas is the hard part. Then you will know what modifications to make.

-to lighten:, adding white will lighten but also lose saturation (some will call this a chalky look). To lighten but keep up saturation as much as possible, apply thinly over white or use a clear medium.

-to grey: adding a premixed neutral grey, or a complement then white. Both can grey a color down, and retain the same value if need be.

-to darken: add black, a darker grey, a mixing complement, apply more thickly (for transparent colors) or use a darker version of the color

If you add a complement that is not an exact complement, this can introduce a slight (or not-so-slight) change in hue - which is sometimes what you want. For example if you want to darken a red but also make it a bit more purplish, instead of adding the direct complement (which might be a blueish-green color like PG7), you could instead add a cyan or blue color...which could give a very dark, purplish red. So you've killed two birds with one stone - darkened, and at the same time shifted the hue to where you want it.


Thanks Patrick, that definitely helps me get this stuff straight in my head -- or a bit straighter anyway considering the condition of my headspace :lol: -- but your previous post also helped me as well. In point of fact I also have a too grayed area of shadow in my current painting relegated to the recessed section of an old building structure and I need to make the shadow come alive rather than just be smoky gray looking.

The way I comprehend this stuff is to be told essentially the same technical things from different directions, so to speak, and then I sort of pull it all together and it begins to 'click for me. So thanks much! :thumbsup: :music: :music:

Mythrill
03-05-2014, 08:32 PM
Yeah . . . how do you decide if you need to tint (add colorless white), Tone (add colorless gray, shade (add colorless black) a color OR Gray it down by adding either its direct or close complement or a color infused gray or black?

Just this morning I looked at my latest landscape after my first cup of tea and nearly spat a mouthful on the canvass . . . the GLOWING GREENS and YELLOWS! Arrrrrrgh!



If you want glowing greens to the point they look like fluorescent from a watermarker try Cobalt Teal Blue / Cobalt Turquoise Light (PG50) + PY 3. This gives a green so bright that it'll be a bit like this!

And it's permanent, too. :)

Another interesting option is to use Green Gold (PY129.) I used (mixed with a few other greens) to mimic the feel of sunlight grass, and I thought it was spot-on!

As for lightening with colorless media, what do you use? There are some companies that sell colorless extenders to use with oil paints, but that's not the case with acrylics. I use this media more, so I make my own filler pigment with Gloss Medium (Golden) and calcium sulphate. It uses a lot of emulsion, but you can use two parts medium with one part phthalo blue, for instance, and suddenly you'll be able to control the color!

You can also make this with Calcium Carbonate, which is a bit more troublesome to prepare, but which has finer particles. All you need are some eggshells. Please note that these recipes work for any media all you need to do is to adapt them to your binder.

Interestingly, Williamsburg has just started to offer a safflower white that has is a blend of an inert pigment (Barium Sulphate, PW21) and Zinc White (PW5.) They market it as "Porcelain White." Link: http://www.williamsburgoils.com/OilColors/safflowerColors.php

The idea behind this is the same as using Calcium Carbonate / Sulphate: lighten the pigment only very, very delicately and simultaneously reducing gloss.

opainter
03-06-2014, 01:44 AM
Just this morning I looked at my latest landscape after my first cup of tea and nearly spat a mouthful on the canvass . . . the GLOWING GREENS and YELLOWS! Arrrrrrgh!

The application of spit is a time-honored method used by art conservators to clean old paintings. But you might have applied a bit too much. Next time, use a q-tip and you shouldn't notice any discoloration. :crossfingers:

kinasi
03-06-2014, 02:09 AM
adding a complement or black and then whitening it, both knocks down the chroma while retaining the value

the only thing that doesn't really work anymore with modern pigments, but is still mentioned in much of the literature is for example adding red to yellow to get a dull orange

it doesn't work anymore because:

*most colors are much higher chroma, binders are really clean
*people are moving away from duller colors like cadmiums

a red + yellow used to give a dull orange, try it with modern pigments and you get a super intense orange, which is good, it just removes the ability to knock down a color like that

it does still work with mineral pigments, but no longer with the modern pigments

Festus
03-06-2014, 07:52 AM
adding a complement or black and then whitening it, both knocks down the chroma while retaining the value

the only thing that doesn't really work anymore with modern pigments, but is still mentioned in much of the literature is for example adding red to yellow to get a dull orange

it doesn't work anymore because:

*most colors are much higher chroma, binders are really clean
*people are moving away from duller colors like cadmiums

a red + yellow used to give a dull orange, try it with modern pigments and you get a super intense orange, which is good, it just removes the ability to knock down a color like that

it does still work with mineral pigments, but no longer with the modern pigments

That's good to know Kinasi. I could see myself mixing and mixing and still not getting the results I need and then scratching my head in puzzlement not realizing that the previous tube of paint was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay older than the current one. Some of the paint tubes I inherited from my uncle after his passing are very nearly old enough to be complaining about arthritis . . . :lol:

Festus
03-06-2014, 08:09 AM
If you want glowing greens to the point they look like fluorescent from a watermarker try Cobalt Teal Blue / Cobalt Turquoise Light (PG50) + PY 3. This gives a green so bright that it'll be a bit like this!

And it's permanent, too. :)

Another interesting option is to use Green Gold (PY129.) I used (mixed with a few other greens) to mimic the feel of sunlight grass, and I thought it was spot-on!

As for lightening with colorless media, what do you use? There are some companies that sell colorless extenders to use with oil paints, but that's not the case with acrylics. I use this media more, so I make my own filler pigment with Gloss Medium (Golden) and calcium sulphate. It uses a lot of emulsion, but you can use two parts medium with one part phthalo blue, for instance, and suddenly you'll be able to control the color!

You can also make this with Calcium Carbonate, which is a bit more troublesome to prepare, but which has finer particles. All you need are some eggshells. Please note that these recipes work for any media all you need to do is to adapt them to your binder.

Interestingly, Williamsburg has just started to offer a safflower white that has is a blend of an inert pigment (Barium Sulphate, PW21) and Zinc White (PW5.) They market it as "Porcelain White." Link: http://www.williamsburgoils.com/OilColors/safflowerColors.php

The idea behind this is the same as using Calcium Carbonate / Sulphate: lighten the pigment only very, very delicately and simultaneously reducing gloss.

Mythrill, I don't lighten with colorless media or with any at all, and so the process is simplified with me -- meaning that there's less to remember even if it's sometimes more difficult to get the results I want. I use an extremely limited range of colors and work at making them carry the entire load; but since my landscapes are mostly realistic representations, rather dull colors tend to be the order of the day. On the other hand that has the advantage of any traces of yellow used automatically looks as if I'm pouring golden sunlight directly from the tube.

Anyway I've only returned to painting this past summer after somewhere between fifteen and twenty years away from this field (I'd have to set down with pencil, paper, and the wife to nail down exactly when I sat the brushes aside so many years ago :angel:). Anyway, painting was relatively simple all those years ago because most of today's wonderful colors simply were not readily available and so I'm accustomed to using only a few colors to 'make do.' I admire the artists able to use a wide cross section of colors and make them work out, but too many options confuse me.

Working in oil at the moment my medium consists of only one part turpentine to three parts linseed oil, keeping whatever color I need to thin down still fat with oil. One of WC's fabulous professional painters is trying to convince me to go a bit more sophisticated in my medium just to give me a bit more versatility . . . and I probably will do so in the not too distant future, but at the moment I'm still working at getting re-accustomed to painting at all, and so I'm moving forward cautiously -- oh, and taking countless notes on expectations versus actual results. It's . . . been . . . enlightening -- if a touch frustrating to date.

Festus
03-06-2014, 08:17 AM
The application of spit is a time-honored method used by art conservators to clean old paintings. But you might have applied a bit too much. Next time, use a q-tip and you shouldn't notice any discoloration. :crossfingers:

Hah! Since I'm doing this particular landscape for my wife -- she wants to hang it in the living room -- she'd make me start all over again from scratch! Anyway after getting those too vivid greens and yellows under control yesterday I was noodling around with the foreground, trying to create a convincing patch of foreground cover that would work as a convincing framing device while enticing the viewer for a stroll into the painting when I discovered to my shock that what was at the beginning of the session a big pain to 'fix' with about a quarter more of the painting to slog through . . . was now suddenly 7/8ths finished. Just that simple, the painting is almost done. You could have knocked me over with a wet noodle . . . :)

So now I'm going to let it dry for about two weeks and then return to it and judiciously tweak here and there to bring this section into greater focus while toning down or graying that one over there, add a touch more highlights to those background trees while deepening these shadows over here. Things like that. Then . . . I get to crank up the woodworking shop and build a suitable frame for the darn thing . . . .